SpaceX rolled out a Falcon 9 rocket to NASA's Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex-39A over the weekend ahead of launching another batch of Starlink satellites next week. The Starlink Group 4-6 mission will deploy a total of 49 internet-beaming satellites on Monday, January 17 at 7:26 p.m. EST. The U.S. Space Force predicts a 70% chance of favorable weather conditions for liftoff along Florida’s Coast. A backup launch opportunity will also be available on Tuesday, January 18 at 7:04 p.m. EST [date is subject to change]. It will be the company’s third spaceflight of 2022 and the 35th Starlink-dedicated mission to build the internet network since 2019. SpaceX launched the previous mission around ten days ago on January 6. 01/17/2022 UPDATE: "With more favorable weather conditions for liftoff and booster recovery, now targeting Tuesday, January 18 at 7:04 p.m. ET for Falcon 9’s launch of Starlink satellites."
Targeting Monday, January 17 at 7:26 p.m. ET for a Falcon 9 launch of 49 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from LC-39A in Florida
SpaceX is rapidly working to deploy the first phase of the satellite constellation which consists of launching home a total of 4,408 Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The satellites will be organized into five operational orbital planes with different parameters referred to as “shells.” The upcoming launch will deploy the fleet of 49 satellites into Shell 4. Shell 4 will consist of 1,584 satellites divided into 72 orbital planes with 22 satellites in each plane operating at an inclination of 53.2° and altitude of 540-kilometers in LEO. The company is currently working to fill-up Shell 2 and Shell 4.
According to SpaceX founder Elon Musk, SpaceX currently operates 1,429 active satellites and 272 are moving into operational orbits. The constellation is currently providing internet to over 145,000 users across 25 countries. As SpaceX launches more satellites, it increases the ability to expand broadband coverage globally to serve more customers.
The Falcon 9 booster in SpaceX’s fleet that will lift off on Monday is B1060-10, it has conducted nine missions and it will now fly a tenth time. It supported the launch of the U.S. Space Force’s GPS III-3 navigation satellite, the Turkish Turksat 5A satellite, and the company’s second SmallSat Rideshare Program Transporter-2 mission, as well as six Starlink missions. The first-stage booster will land on the ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ autonomous ocean that is stationed in Atlantic Ocean. You can watch a Live broadcast of the Starlink Group 4-6 mission in the video below.
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.